Happy 9 Years of Living Lotus!
It’s been nine years of recipe testing, creation tasting, and chocolate making. We are so grateful for the wonderful community that has been built over this past (almost) decade. We hope that our treats will continue to inspire and delight the chocolate lovers who, like us, seek joy through the decadence of chocolate.
The Living Lotus story actually started over a decade ago, born from the love for a journey with food. Our founder Audrey had been supplementing her diet with cleaner plant-based meals, and it inspired her to learn more about raw food and nutrition. She fell in love with the transformation that she saw with this new lifestyle – and she had more energy than ever before (even while still working 12 hour days in the film industry). Plus, her major sweet tooth and love for all things sweet led her to learn about making raw vegan desserts – which as it turns out, she was quite good at. Her friends and family loved her creations and the ethos behind them – healthy desserts that taste good and make you feel good, too. Not too long after that, Living Lotus was born!
Nine years from it’s conception, Living Lotus has now flourished into a community of dessert lovers who care about eating cruelty-free treats that taste good, too. But, this growth has not happened without its challenges. In the beginning, Audrey had to make the difficult decision to leave her full-time career to start something brand new in an industry that she had no professional experience with. But, her love for vegan treats and fuelling the body with raw, whole foods motivated her to give it a try.
As a minority woman in a competitive and cut-throat industry, Audrey had to step out of her comfort zone, face adversity head on, and take many risks to make Living Lotus what it is today. The Living Lotus name came from thin air. But hindsight shows it came from this journey, as the lotus flower grows from mud and transforms into something beautiful.
When you ask Audrey about starting her company, she will say “the cacao bean found me, and chocolate won”. And if you’ve ever tried her desserts, you would agree that it’s a good thing it did! From a rainbow of ganache flavours to a lovely selection of bean to bar chocolate bars, it’s undeniable that the thought and care (and hard work) that goes into creating the Living Lotus products is a labour of love for our Chocolate Maker (aka Cacao bean butcher).
Carefully choosing ingredients has always been an important part of Audrey’s dessert making process, and even more so when developing recipes for Living Lotus. We’ve always used whole foods and minimal ingredients in our products to let the natural flavours and textures speak for themselves. The ingredients are often unheated or heated at very low temperatures in order to increase the bioavailability of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for your body. We use organic ingredients so you can get the most out of your treats, and our nuts and seeds are sprouted for better digestion and optimal health. And, we don’t use any food additives, GMOs, gums, or stabilizers (those are extras that your body won’t thank you for – lecithin? No thank you).
Instead of refined sugar, we use coconut nectar, coconut sugar, and Medjool dates as our recipe sweeteners, as they are more sustainable and diabetic-friendly than the white stuff. Coconut nectar is extracted from the blossom of the coconut palm while it is still on the tree. Along with coconut sugar, they are low glycemic sweeteners. The glycemic index is how fast a food will spike your blood sugar level, and coconut nectar measures in at 35 on the glycemic index, while white sugar is at a whopping 67. Dates are not only naturally sweet, but also high in a fibre called beta-D-glucan. This fibre slows the rate that the small intestine absorbs sugar which keeps blood glucose levels even.
We can’t forget about the cacao! We’ve always been a whole food company, and adding bean to bar chocolate to the product roster was an easy choice. This has meant that we get to source beans from the farmers who put extra care and attention into the cacao farming process (it’s an art, really). We handcraft our bean to bar chocolate in small batches using beans that are grown and harvested directly from the farmers themselves. By supporting the farmers directly and purchasing cacao that isn’t from the commodity chain, we are able to ensure they are treated fairly and get paid a fair wage.
Cacao beans go through a lot before they get to us, though. After being harvested, the beans go through post-harvest practices such as fermenting and drying. Then, they are roasted to bring out their delicate flavour. Here’s where we come in. In our Living Lotus chocolate workshop the cacao beans are cracked, winnowed, ground, and mixed with ingredients like cacao butter and coconut sugar. This smooth and creamy mixture is then tempered (tempering is the magic!), poured into moulds and wrapped up into the beautiful packaging that took months and months to develop.
When developing new recipes, Audrey finds inspiration from many different sources. She wants to make products that are fun for all ages and even nostalgic – like our Christmas advent calendars or our creme eggs.. She also loves creating products with ingredients that suit the seasons, like our spring limited release bar with sakura cherry green tea.
Audrey loves creating with her hands, especially when it’s chocolate related. That also means that our chocolate studio sees a lot of ingredients while creating. This past Easter season alone we used 6lbs of Cacao Butter, 10lbs of Hazelnuts, 11lbs of Cashews, 21lbs of Coconut, and 45lbs of Chocolate. Talk about a labour of love! If you’ve ever spoken to Audrey about her chocolate making, you might have heard her say that she can make any flavour taste good with her chocolates. Yes, any flavour! Even pickles. While mint chocolate will always be her personal favourite flavour, don’t be surprised if you see unique and crazy combinations in the future.
The last nine years have been quite an adventure, and we’re excited to continue the Living Lotus story. We have lots of fun ideas for new products – make sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with new launches. Plus, markets and faires are back in full swing, so you can expect to see us in person (and taste test our treats) a lot more this coming year.
We are never quite sure about what’s in the cards for our small business, but at least we know it’ll taste good!